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Raid organization and behavioral development in the slave making ant polyergus lucidus

Insectes Sociaux 31(4): 361-374

Raid organization and behavioral development in the slave making ant polyergus lucidus

Mixed-species colonies of P. lucidus and Formica schaufussi were studied in New York [USA]. Slave raids were conducted in late afternoon, past the peak in diurnal temperature. Multiple raids on different Formica colonies were common, as were reraids on the same colony. In laboratory nests, about 75% of the raided Formica brood was eaten. Of 27 days on which raids occurred in the laboratory, 25 were on Formica nests scouted on the day of the raid. Polyergus scouts are among the oldest individuals in the colony, and callows do not participate in scouting during the entire season of their eclosion. The group of Polyergus workers that circle on the surface near the nest prior to raiding has a dynamic composition. The most frequent behavioral transition was from circulating on 1 day to scouting on the nest. The next most common change was from scouting to circling. The first scouting of the spring season occurred only one day after the appearance of Polyergus larvae. The 1st slave raid was conducted 4 days later. Formica brood was present in freeliving colonies from 1-4 wk earlier than Polyergus brood in mixed nests. Although workers of Polyergus were usually fed by regurgitation from Formica, they occasionally drank and ate eggs independently. The Polyergus queen was surrounded only by Formica workers. Polyergus eggs hatched into larvae in .apprx. 12 days, with the larval stage lasting an additional 9-12 days. Eclosion of callows took place within 20-23 days after pupation. Newly mated Polyergus queens follow slave raids and attempt adoption into target nests when the Formica are scattered during a slave raid. The process of budding was never observed.

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Accession: 006255450

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